Maamoul ( معمول ) are small shortbread pastries that are made with a variety of fillings.
The most popular fillings include dates and another containing walnuts. But it is not uncommon to find pistachio, or fig, or even turkish delight fillings, among others.
They are popular in Levantine (Shami) cuisine and, really, in all Arab countries.
They can either be decorated manually or be made in special wooden moulds, as the one I use here which I have has for oh so many years. I adapted the recipe from Tess Mallos Middle East Cookbook. The recipe is fantastic, but I object to the name which is completely off: Tess Mallos named this recipe Iraqi kleicha, which is an entirely different cookie (Iraqi date kleicha recipe here).
For the dough:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup regular white flour
1 1/4 cups (250g) butter, cold
1 Tbsp orange blossom water
1/4 cup ice-cold water
For the date filling:
2 cups dried dates. seeded
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp powdered cardamom
1 Tbsp ghee
Place the flours, sugar, and cold butter in a food processor.
Pulse until resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the orange blossom and the water as the machine is running until a ball of dough is formed.
Transfer to a bowl, cover in plastic wrap, let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a pan or pot, add the fennel seeds and the cardamom and the dates.
Stir often until the dates soften.
Set aside to cool.
Form balls of dough, keeping in mind the size of your mold.
I got 27 balls from this quantity of dough.
Once the dates are cool enough to handle, form and equal number of smaller balls to be used as the filling.
Flatten a dough ball in the palm of your hand, insert a date ball and cover the dates with the dough, re-shaping into a ball.
Press the new ball into the wooden mold.
Un-mold and place flat-side down on a baking tray.
Note if you don’t have a wooden mold, you can simply decorate by pressing against the spikes of a fork.
Bake in a pre-heated 330F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned.
I broiled for a minutes to induce browning after the 30 minutes.
Cool on the tray. After cooling they will become crisp and firm.
Store in sealed container when completely cooled.